- It can be hard to figure out which freediving wetsuit is right for you. The perfect wetsuit depends on how you’ll use it and what properties you need it to have.
- The thickness of your wetsuit depends on what temperature water you will dive in. Get a thinner wetsuit if diving in warmer waters and a thicker wetsuit if you are in colder water.
- You can use a rash guard or scuba suit to free dive, but this isn’t ideal and may not be as good. A much better choice is to get a proper freediving wetsuit, like a double-lining or single-lining wetsuit, which are popular and affordable.
- There are also other wetsuits, like the no-lining and sandwich wetsuits, but they are more expensive and mainly used by professional, free drivers.
- All freediving wetsuit options have different pros and cons, so be sure to research each option and consider your wetsuit’s purpose to identify which wetsuit is right for you.
Freediving is a type of diving when divers go underwater without breathing apparatus like the oxygen cylinders or atmospheric diving suits used when scuba diving. Freedivers rely on their skilled breath-holding while they dive and naturally explore beneath the surface of the sea. Freedivers need wetsuits that can prevent them from getting cold, protect them from underwater objects and make them more hydrodynamic. However, it can be hard for newcomers to identify what wetsuit they should get for freediving. With terms like “smooth skin” and “open cell”, wetsuits might sound more like sci-fi objects rather than the practical pieces of equipment they are. It can be tricky to understand what wetsuit you should get for freediving, where you can find it and what thickness it should be. The simplest way to identify which wetsuit you should buy is to ask yourself three core questions.
- Where are you diving?
- What is the temperature of the water where you are diving?
- What is the purpose of diving? Enjoyment? Spearfishing? Professional sport?
Once you have the answers, this guide will help you understand everything you need to know about selecting the perfect freediving wetsuit for your next dive.
Freediving And Spearfishing Wetsuit Thickness Guide
The thickness of a freediving wetsuit depends on the temperature of the water you’re in and the length of time you’ll be diving in it. Choosing the right thickness is important, as the correct thickness will make you feel more comfortable and as warm as possible while underwater. Generally, the warmer the water you dive in, the thinner wetsuit you’ll need, while the colder the water temperature, the thicker wetsuit you will need. You’ll only need a thin suit for tropical waters. Bear in mind that wetsuits compress over time, so they will not retain the same thickness forever. So you should keep an eye on your wetsuit to ensure it is thick enough for the water you want to dive in. There is no strict rule for temperature and wetsuit thickness, but we’ve created an easy guide to help you understand what thickness your wetsuit should be. Hopefully, this table will make it easy for you to pick a wetsuit thickness. Don’t buy a wetsuit that’s too thick for your water temperature, as it will make diving much more uncomfortable.
|Water Temperature||Recommended Wetsuit Thickness|
|28℃+||1 – 1.5 mm|
|24 – 28℃||3 mm|
|18 – 24℃||5 mm|
|17℃ And Colder||7 mm|
Can You Use A Rash Guard, Surfing Wetsuit Or Scuba Wetsuit For Freediving?
Technically you can use a rash guard, surfing wetsuit or scuba wetsuit for freediving, although if you intend to do it frequently, you should get a freediving wetsuit. Rash guards and scuba wetsuits are cheaper options which offer you a degree of protection while you are free driving. They are certainly better than nothing, especially if you’re unsure if you’ll free-dive more than a handful of times, however, if you plan on freediving often they’re not ideal. Scuba wetsuits include a zipper that allows water to trickle in. They also use a dense neoprene that fights compression at depth, making it less flexible and comfortable while freediving. Scuba wetsuits limit freedivers’ manoeuvrability, whereas freediving wetsuits allow for unhindered movement. Ease of movement and comfortability are very important for freedivers as it makes it easier to concentrate on their breath-holding and enjoy longer, more fulfilling dives. Meanwhile, surfing wetsuits aren’t designed to withstand pressure, so they aren’t meant to be used too deep, which doesn’t make them ideal for freediving. They also offer no protection against scratches, jellyfish, or other sea hazards and can be very restrictive. So if you plan on freediving, you should avoid using a rash guard, scuba wetsuit or surfing wetsuit, unless you have no other choice.
Types of Freediving Wetsuits
Freediving wetsuits generally come in two pieces, including a hood that stops the water from entering the collar and doesn’t have a zipper to prevent water getting in. Freediving wetsuits are very flexible, allowing divers to move around underwater freely and explore to their heart’s content.
Double-lining wetsuits are suits made of neoprene with a nylon lining on the interior and exterior of the wetsuit. A double-lining wetsuit is one of the cheapest freediving wetsuits, and it is the best option if you are a beginner or someone who is not yet comfortable with freediving. Double-lining wetsuits are very durable and can withstand pressure very well. They are easy to put on and take off and offer good stretch resistance. Many freediving wetsuits are tricky to put on and take off, so this is a big pro for new freedivers. Double-lining wetsuits’ stretch resistance can improve your freediving experience and help you with underwater movement. However, their inside lining doesn’t seal like single-lining wetsuits, so double-lining suits might not be as warm as some alternatives. Their stretch resistance can also make the double-lining wetsuit less form-fitting and comfortable.
Single-lining wetsuits are suits with only one lining of nylon either on the inside or outside of the wetsuit, in contrast to the double lining’s two nylon linings. Some single-lining wetsuits are reversible, but inside and outside-lining wetsuits have different pros and cons. Wetsuits with nylon on the inside are often referred to as smooth-skin wetsuits, while wetsuits with nylon on the outside are often called open-cell wetsuits. Single-lining wetsuits are more durable than no-lining wetsuits but are generally less durable than double-lining wetsuits.
Single-Lining Inside (Often Called Smooth Skin Wetsuits)
Single-lining wetsuits with nylon on the inside are often called smooth-skin wetsuits. Smooth skin is used to describe when the neoprene is on the outside of the wetsuit. These popular wetsuits make divers more hydrodynamic and increase the speeds of a divers’ freefall. They’re very easy to put on and take off due to their nylon lining on the inside and can come in various cool colours. However, due to their lining on the inside, they are very delicate on the outside. Smooth skin wetsuits’ fragility makes them very easy to cut or damage while diving. Similarly, exposure to the sun can make the smooth skin lose its colour and eventually crack.
Single-Lining Outside (Often Called Open-Cell Wetsuits)
Single-lining wetsuits are suits with nylon on the outside, often called open-cell wetsuits. Open cell is when the neoprene is on the inside of the wetsuit against your skin. Open-cell wetsuits minimise water loss which ensures better heat insulation. They are very durable against scratches and any underwater objects you might encounter while you’re underwater. They are rather difficult to put on and are quite delicate. To put them on easily, you’ll probably need soapy water or baby powder, or you will need to put it on while inside the water; this is the most environmentally friendly option. Open-cell wetsuits are at risk of overstretching and prone to tears from nails and underwater objects, so be very careful when putting them on.
A no-lining wetsuit is a suit without nylon lining with neoprene on both the interior and exterior. The lack of nylon helps make the diver more manoeuvrable and flexible underwater. It is one of the most expensive freediving suits and is usually only used by pro-freedivers. Pro freedivers use it as it can make you more hydrodynamic and increase the speed of your freefall. It is very good at thermal insulation, and like open-cell wetsuits, it keeps water flow to a minimum while retaining heat. However, it is very fragile. As such, you will have to be very careful while putting it on, as it is easy to overstretch or cut. If you want a more durable no-lining wetsuit, you should try to get a thicker one.
Sandwich wetsuits have a layer of nylon sandwiched in the middle between an open cell neoprene on the interior and smooth skin neoprene on the exterior. Sandwich wetsuits are generally one of the more expensive wetsuits on the market. They’re more durable than no-lining wetsuits, but like no-lining wetsuits, they can keep you insulated, hydrodynamic and fast. However, they are fairly stiff wetsuits and, as such, are difficult to put on.
One-Piece Freediving Wetsuits
One-piece freediving wetsuits look similar to scuba wetsuits but are made of a different type of neoprene and seal more efficiently at the collar, which stops water from entering. They’re very flexible and great for your underwater movement. One-piece freediving wetsuits are hydrodynamic and less buoyant than scuba wetsuits due to their thinness and lack of a hood. However, the lack of a hood does decrease the one-piece wetsuits’ thermal insulation. There is also the possibility that water can enter the one-piece through the collar area, which can make diving uncomfortable.
We hope this guide has shed some light on the different freediving wetsuits and their pros and cons. Remember to consider what core functions you want most in a wetsuit. If you value durability, perhaps the double-lining wetsuit is ideal for you, or perhaps you want a hydrodynamic wetsuit and should get the no-lining wetsuit. Consider what water temperature you’ll be freediving in and get the right thickness to suit the temperature. If you are ready to look for the perfect freediving equipment or want more information on freediving, you don’t need to look any further. At Agulhas, we design stylish, high-performance freediving gear by freedivers for freedivers, whether you want to free dive in shallows or at depth. Our sustainably made freediving equipment is designed by champion freediver Hanli Prinsloo, world champion swimmer Peter Marshall and acclaimed designer Alexander Taylor. Agulhas wetsuits are some of the most eco-friendly ones you can find on the market right now, allowing you to explore the ocean sustainably. They are made of a neoprene called Yamamoto, made by the eponymous Japanese company that creates neoprene out of natural limestone rather than a petrochemical. The limestone neoprene has augmented insulation, buoyancy and elongation. It has a maximum elongation of over 480%; in comparison, human skin can stretch up to 60 – 70%. Limestone wetsuits are also 98% waterproof as opposed to the standard 70% waterproof that oil-derived wetsuits offer. Limestone wetsuits are typically more expensive than the average wetsuit, but thanks to our business model, we can provide them at a much more affordable price for the average freediver. This means you can now order a handmade limestone wetsuit for the same price as any classic wetsuit. These wetsuits are perfect for freedivers who want to explore, but not damage, the ocean. Browse our online store to discover the perfect freediving gear for you.
Freedivers use two-piece wetsuits as they are very flexible, help your movement and are easy to breathe in. They’re generally very good at keeping you insulated while you’re freediving.
The ideal thickness of a freediving wetsuit is determined by the water temperature you wish to free dive in. Generally, your wetsuit should be thicker if you wish to dive into colder waters, while warmer waters require a thinner wetsuit. If diving in waters between 18 – 28℃, you should get a wetsuit between 3 – 5 mm thick.
A 7 mm wetsuit is best for cold waters of beneath 17℃. The thicker the wetsuit, the colder waters it is suited for.
Yes. Every wetsuit offers you more flotation than you would without any. The thicker your wetsuit is, the more buoyancy it provides. For example, a 1 mm wetsuit is less buoyant than a 7 mm one.
A 5 mm thick wetsuit should be perfect for water temperatures between 18 – 24℃. If you are diving in warmer waters, try to select a thinner wetsuit and get a thicker wetsuit if you are diving in lower temperatures.